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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 8 May 2008) . . Page.. 1683 ..

I note that Dr Foskey has foreshadowed a range of amendments to the bill. Two of the proposed government amendments will make changes that have also been proposed by Dr Foskey related to retaining authorisation statements on bumper stickers and items of 10 words or less and retaining the offence of defamation of a candidate. However, the government does not support Dr Foskey’s other proposed amendments. I will address the government position on each of Dr Foskey’s amendments when we debate the detail stage of the bill.

Passage of this bill will ensure that our electoral system remains one of the best in the world and that the ACT maintains its place and its record of best practice in the conduct of its elections. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Detail stage

Clauses 1 to 6, by leave, taken together and agreed to.

Proposed new clause 6A.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (8.55): I move amendment No 1 circulated in my name which inserts a new clause 6A [see schedule 1 at page 1774]. I table a supplementary explanatory statement to the amendments.

This amendment will extend the right to enrol and vote to all ACT prisoners otherwise entitled to enrol, notwithstanding that they may be excluded from enrolling for federal elections. The government’s amendment to extend enrolment and voting rights to all ACT prisoners is in response to the High Court’s decision in Roach v the Electoral Commissioner, which upheld a challenge to the 2006 amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 that extended the right to enrol to all prisoners for commonwealth and ACT purposes but removed the right to vote in federal elections from all prisoners, while extending the right to vote to all prisoners for ACT Legislative Assembly elections.

The High Court ruled that the removal of the right to vote from all prisoners was unconstitutional. I have already spoken about the effect of the court’s decision. The proposed amendment will provide an entitlement for prisoners to enrol to vote in ACT elections if they are not entitled to be enrolled on the commonwealth roll only because they are serving a sentence of imprisonment. This proposed amendment is consistent with the focus in the ACT on human rights and gives effect to section 17 of the Human Rights Act 2004, which provides for the right to vote at periodic elections.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (8.57): Because of a plethora of amendments, especially the government’s amendments to amendments on Tuesday, I join with other speakers—and I have said it earlier—in saying that the most sensible thing for

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